Yesterday I preached the second in my three-part series on the work of the Trinity from Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3:14-21. I think it was the most effective sermon in the set. What I was attempting to convey is that love is the central work of Christ and that the love of God is embodied in Jesus and therefore a maturing life will follow the basic outline of Ephesians 3:17-19.
17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (ESV–because ESV is the official translation of Pastor Greenbean.)
The line of argument in these verses can be viewed in a four-stage process. Stage one–by faith Christ dwells in our hearts. This is when we receive the love of God in Christ. Stage two–we grow in our understanding of life by being rooted (planted) and grounded (like a foundation for a building–like poured concrete) in love. This involves spiritual and ethical behaviors. Stage three–we attain, through Christ, a knowing of his love which is beyond knowledge. It is not taught or learned, it is only experienced. I believe this is the motivation of grace. Stage four–we become filled with the fullness of God, which is a loving fullness that completely transforms us from the inside out.
In the sermon I also linked these verses to something else. Verse 17 is all about faith, and then the overall theme of the section is love and then in verse 20 something startling happens.
20 to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,
21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
It would be completely appropriate to think of vv 20-21 as being ‘hope filled’ verses about what God will do and what will be done. If so, the Paul is thinking of the three cardinal Christian virtues: Faith, hope and love. Just like in 1 Corinthians 13, here Paul indicates that while faith and hope are important, the greatest, the hinge, is love.
I included this poem I wrote for the sermon, titled “Faithful Lover”
Faith and love—
go hand in glove,
both a decision—
to accept God’s mission
planted and poured—